Coccinellid larvae are known to prey upon conspecific and heterospecific eggs, larvae, prepupae, and pupae. This behavior may depend on both the aggregation and intensive search of potential cannibals and predators near aphid colonies and the disappearance of aphids before coccinellid larvae have completed their development. We examined how coccinellid density and prey availability influence cannibalism and interspecific predation of larvae and pupae of 4 species of coccinellids. We determined whether coccinellid mortality and dispersal were density-dependent when prey become scarce, and estimated the leaving rates of Coleomegilla maculata (DeGeer), Adalia bipunctata (L.), and Hippodamia convergens (Guerin) larvae from plants with aphids and plants without aphids. Our results show that larval and pupal cannibalism and interspecific predation occur more frequently when aphid populations crash, but we found no evidence of coccinellid density-dependent mortality or density-dependent larval dispersal among species. However, A. bipunctata and H. convergens were significantly more aggressive and more likely to leave a plant without aphids than was C. maculata. These results suggest that the decision to stay on a plant is not strongly aphid- or pollen-mediated for C. maculata, but the decision to stay or leave does appear to be aphid-mediated for H. convergens and to some extent A. bipunctata. Whether a coccinellid larva stays or leaves and its tendency to cannibalize can affect larval and pupal survival and the population dynamics of each species.
- Interspecific and intraguild predation
- Prey scarcity